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Independent review of Loveland Police Department after arrest of Karen Garner complete

An independent firm conducted an assessment of the department in response to the arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia in 2020.

LOVELAND, Colo. — The Loveland Police Department needs to refocus on community relationships and communication, improve how they investigate complaints and modify their use-of-force policies, according to an independent review of the department that was completed Wednesday.

The review came after body camera footage showing officers wrestle 73-year-old Karen Garner to the ground gained national attention in April 2021, nearly 10 months after her arrest. Garner, who has dementia, suffered shoulder and arm injuries and was held for five hours without treatment.

> The video above aired in September 2021

RELATED: 'We failed and we are very sorry': 3 Loveland police employees no longer with department after Karen Garner arrest

National law enforcement and public safety consulting firm Jensen Hughes conducted the investigation, which will be presented to Loveland City Council on Jan. 11. 

According to the report, “the LPD and its officers have historically earned a lot of respect from the Loveland community; however, recent events have raised concerns from many community members about the department’s oversight and accountability. 

The LPD should review its policing philosophy and put a renewed emphasis on community policing and internal and external communications. According to Jensen Hughes, by following this assessment’s recommendations, the LPD can help re-establish its relationship with the community, improve its internal operations and increase accountability to the City’s residents.”

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It identified 42 recommendations in five areas: operational practices; supervision, leadership, and professionalism; processes and protocols for complaints against LPD personnel; community engagement; and citizen advice and oversight.

Some of these include:

  • Develop a standalone policy to emphasize the importance of de-escalation or devote a section to de-escalation within the use-of-force policy.
  •  Amend one of the department's policies to require officers who observe excessive force to notify their supervisor and document their observations as soon as possible.
  • Share the results of the annual analysis of uses of force to inform the community of trends, sufficiency of training, use-of-force complaint data and the existence of any evidence of bias or discriminatory practices.
  • Establish within policy the obligation to document all citizen concerns, including the resolution.
  • Establish within policy criteria to identify the type of complaints that may be referred to an outside agency for investigation and the process for handling complaints involving the chief and other command staff.
  • Develop a formal, community policing and community engagement plan with goals, objectives and measurable outcomes to assist the Department in establishing formal collaborative relationships with community members and community stakeholder groups. This would enhance the Department’s ability to incorporate the concepts of community-oriented policing in all its operations and should be a part of its overall strategic plan.
  • Provide Department members with basic, advanced and refresher training related to community policing, community engagement and problem-solving.

You see the full list of recommendations and read the rest of the report here.

"After reviewing the assessment, it’s important for the public to know it reflects opportunities for our police department to build upon successes and improve in other areas. Of the recommendations where we can make immediate and impactful change, we will," said LPD Chief Bob Ticer in a release about the report. "We appreciate that some of our pre-existing plans for improvement are highlighted in the report, such as emphasizing de-escalation in our training, doubling our co-responder program, and reaching 100% Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for our department. 

The Loveland Police Department is committed to taking positive steps forward to enhance trust and expand upon our community relationships within Loveland. To do this, I am establishing working groups across the department to examine these recommendations and provide additional actionable steps we can take to enhance the work we do for all who live, work and visit Loveland.”

Those who want to comment or ask questions related to the report can email OCE@CityofLoveland.org, or fill out the form on the City’s Loveland Police Department Accountability webpage.

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